Does Cross-Sector Collaboration Lead to Higher Nonprofit Capacity?

Michelle Shumate, Jiawei Sophia Fu, Katherine R. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Cross-sector social partnership (CSSP) case-based theory and research have long argued that nonprofits that engage in more integrative and enduring cross-sector partnerships should increase their organizational capacity. By increasing their capacity, nonprofits increase their ability to contribute to systemic change. The current research investigates this claim in a large-scale empirical research study. In particular, this study examines whether nonprofits that have a greater number of integrated cross-sector partnerships have greater capacities for financial management, strategic planning, external communication, board leadership, mission orientation, and staff management than nonprofits that have other types of interorganizational relationships. Moreover, it examines whether the length of these partnerships is associated with better capacity. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis drawn from surveys of 452 nonprofit organizations suggests that cross-sector collaboration is not systematically related to increased capacity. However, the results suggest that more enduring relationships between government and nonprofit organizations that extend beyond funder–recipient relationships are related to greater strategic planning capacity. Implications for CSSP research are drawn from the results, especially those concerned with the outcomes of CSSPs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-399
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law


  • Capacity
  • Cross-sector social partnerships
  • Interorganizational network
  • Network portfolio
  • Nonprofit organization


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